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Interview with AIBA President Umar Kremlev

Interviewer: Adam Nahal
Boxing Australia Level 2 Coach Course Presenter and Freelance Journalist

- What is boxing for you?

As a child, I was a rather restless guy, as they say now, hyperactive. To direct my energy in the right direction, my mother brought me to the boxing section to a true master - coach Aleksey Galeev. The coach asked me several questions, looked at me carefully and immediately accepted me into his group. That day was fateful. It was boxing that taught me purposefulness, respect for the opponent and quick decision-making. But over time, I had to choose between serious training and work. I still continue to train every day. Not for the sake of sports results, but because I cannot live without boxing. As a child, my main dream was to see Olympic Champions and World Champions, and fate decreed that now we are working with them on the development of our favorite sport. Boxing is my life.

- Can you remember your first boxing experience?

I was sure that I would come to the section, immediately put on my gloves, and go into the ring. But it turned out that in order to have the honor to box with an opponent, you need to learn a lot and go through a lot of practice. Boxing is a gentlemanly and intellectual sport that has clear rules and requires a lot of training. When people ask me about my first experience in boxing, I remember not the first sparring, but the great work that my coach and I did before the first fight. This is also true in life. In order to confidently take a fight, you must first prepare.

- You won an overwhelming majority of votes more than 50% in each round of voting for the AIBA Presidency. What would you attribute the voter confidence to?

I have visited many AIBA countries. We have talked with many representatives of national federations, including during Forums. I know the problems of boxing on every continent, and the leaders of the federations know and support my proposals for solving them. They know me - not by words, but by deeds: based on the example of the recovery and development of boxing in Russia, my team and I have developed technologies that have already proven their effectiveness. Therefore, it was personal communication and a clear example of my work that gave support and trust, for which I am very grateful to the global boxing community.

- The AIBA Congress adopted its new constitution recently. What are the major changes to the constitution? How might these changes benefit the Oceania federations? Are the Oceania federations better off with the new constitution?

The new Constitution is more democratic and will give more powers to national federations and
Continental Confederations. In particular, national federations from any given continent, including
Oceania, will be free to elect the President of their Continental Federation on the occasion of their
Continental Congress; the elected President, representing his Continent, will automatically become an
AIBA Board member. The vast majority of AIBA Board members will be elected by the National
Federations from the same Continent, which will allow a fair and adequate balance between continents. In addition, the Constitution ensures a gender balance with a minimum number of women in the Board of Directors. The composition of the Board of Directors will also necessarily include athletes.
AIBA’s organization and work will be more efficient under the new Constitution, with the number of
AIBA Board members being reduced from 32 to 22, and numerous structures being simplified, notably AIBA standing committees. The new Constitution also clarifies the tasks of AIBA's corporate bodies.
Finally, ethics and financial controlling have been enhanced. The Ethics Committee has been given an expanded role. Several financial controls, including the creation of an internal audit body, have been approved by Congress and will be implemented very soon. I am sure that the reforms of AIBA, among other things, will have a positive effect on the development of boxing all over the world, including in Oceania.

 - Recently you mentioned the importance of re-building AIBA. What is the path as you see it for rebuilding AIBA? In short, what are your unique vision and the steps you will take to fulfill your vision for AIBA?

At AIBA, we know and honor the great - Recently you mentioned the importance of re-building AIBA. What is the path as you see it for rebuilding AIBA? In short, what are your unique vision and the steps you willhistory of our sport. AIBA celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. And today it is important to make this history the foundation of AIBA's renaissance so that the future of global boxing is no less great than the past.

As you know, I was elected President of AIBA at a difficult time for the association. During this challenging period, the boxing community has placed great trust in me to spearhead the renaissance of the International Boxing Association and to ensure AIBA's return to the Olympic family. I cannot deny that this is an uneasy task. To solve it, fundamental reforms are required. And to carry out reforms, the unity of the entire boxing community of the planet is needed. The reforms, in which all National Federations are taking part, have already begun and have shown that today the boxing community is united like never before. We know that our common goal is to make AIBA as efficient, transparent and open as possible.
Closing AIBA's debt will be my team's top priority. We will attract large international companies as partners. In six months, AIBA will not be in debt and will receive funds to help national federations in the development of boxing on all continents.
Finance is very important. But control over their receipt and use are no less important. All our financial receipts and expenses will be public. It is important for us that AIBA proves its integrity and transparency to the entire sports community. Not only will the use of finances be transparent, but the entire management of AIBA.
Training and monitoring the qualifications of specialists are our next goals. We will build state-of-the-art boxing academies on five continents, including Oceania. There, the National Federations of every continent will be able to educate and certify their referees and judges, officials, coaches, cutmen and ringside doctors. And, of course, conduct testing and control of their knowledge and qualifications. It is important that the level of competence of those who work in boxing is at the highest one.
AIBA has already created the Veterans and Champions Committee, Coaches Committee, Athletes Committee, R&J Committee, Medical and Anti-Doping Committee for professionals to share their experience and find the best solutions for the development of global boxing together. In addition, the issue of gender equality in boxing is extremely important. The Women's Committee, organized by AIBA, will ensure that the rights of women and men are equal in our sport.
As President of AIBA, I will ensure that we host top-class events on all continents, including Oceania. It is important that boxers in each country are provided with everything they need for their new victories: the best training facilities, first-class equipment, qualified trainers, medical care.
I will convene boxing forums every year so that the AIBA administration receives feedback from the entire boxing community. We will also continue the fight against doping at all levels. We have already renewed our contract with the International Testing Agency (ITA) to ensure that AIBA continues to meet the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). In addition, we have agreed with the ITA that in February we begin anti-doping educational seminars for the National Federations.
My goal is to restore our organization to its rightful place in the Olympic Games. We will implement reforms so that AIBA can not only meet international standards but also exceed them.

Prior to being voted as the AIBA President, you were president of the Russian Federation. What are some of the most successful outcomes you achieved for the Russian Federation?

- The Russian Boxing Federation has been the best National Federation according to EUBC for two years in a row. Based on the example of the recovery and development of boxing in the largest country in the world, Russia, we have developed technologies that have already proven their effectiveness. Now, after discussions with the National Federations that are part of our association, we will use them at the international level.
Large-scale national and international events have taken place in Russia. The country hosted I and II
Global Boxing Forums in Sochi in February 2018 and in Ekaterinburg in June 2019. We also held the AIBA World Boxing Championships, both Men's and Women's editions. The 20th Men's edition was held in Ekaterinburg in 2019. Athletes and coaches from 78 countries came to the tournament. By the way, post-Soviet Russia has never hosted the AIBA Men's World Boxing Championships. The previous Championships was held in the USSR in Moscow in 1989.
In 2019, Ulan-Ude hosted the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championship. It was recognized as the best sports tourism event in Russia and received the IX National Award in the field of event tourism Russian Event Awards 2020. On the initiative of the Russian Boxing Federation, a public holiday was established - Russian Boxing Day, as well as an International Boxing Day - July 22.
Moscow entered the book of records, setting a unique achievement in the most massive open boxing training with the participation of about 3 thousand people. The Russian Boxing Federation supports regional federations, athletes and coaches. The organization's key goal is to develop the boxing community and popularize our sport. Boxing is loved for its entertainment, creative and non-standard approach, intelligence, great and glorious history. I am sure that both in Russia and throughout the world our sport will only strengthen its positions and attract new admirers.

You launched the first Global Boxing Forum, which was first convened in early February 2018 in Sochi, Russia. Can this platform benefit the federations of Oceania in the future?

The Global Boxing Forum is a platform for the entire boxing family. Athletes, coaches, referee & judges, sports officials, ringside doctors - everyone who works in the boxing industry today come together. The goal is to exchange experience, gain new knowledge and receive feedback from colleagues, discuss and solve topical issues for the global development of boxing.
I am sure that this communication platform is very useful for all AIBA member countries, including Oceania.

In 2021 you have planned a two-month tournament the Global Boxing Cup. Can you give some background to this tournament and how it will run?

On January 22nd, the AIBA Board of Directors decided to postpone the Global Boxing Cup from 2021 to 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The competitions, as planned, will be held in the cities of Russia, and the final fights will take place in Moscow. We are closely monitoring the situation with the pandemic and are in contact with doctors. While we are cautiously optimistic about the overall situation, I agree with the Board's decision to postpone the Global Boxing Cup to 2022. The health of the boxing family is our priority.

You have announced plans to provide annual funding of $2 million to AIBA’s national federations and to set up boxing academies on each continent to train athletes, coaches, referees and judges. Can you explain the vision behind this plan and when it will commence?

My vision is that AIBA is an association created primarily to develop boxing on every continent, in every country in the world. Therefore, our organization should do its utmost to help achieve this global goal. Boxing cannot develop without educating people who work in our industry with the world's best practices. Therefore, I see the need for boxing academies for Confederations, and, in the long term, for National Federations.
As I have already said, in these academies, coaches, R&Js, ringside doctors will be able to undergo training and appropriate certification, because they are the people who work in boxing to develop our sport. I am sure that AIBA should participate in the development of global boxing, including financially. That is why my plans include the allocation of funds to National Federations so that they can maximize boxing development and audience interest in it in their countries.

What is the idea behind the International Boxing Day?

Boxing is a sport that is loved not only by the boxing or sports community. Every year more and more people are involved in our sport: they watch competitions, take children to the boxing section. Increasingly, both men and women are changing their usual fitness room for classes in the boxing ring. In order to practice boxing, expensive equipment is not required, this is a sport accessible to everyone, truly popular and widespread.
We organized that celebration out of respect for traditions, for the great past of boxing, for those, who are passionate about boxing today, and those who will become involved in it in the future. I am confident that every year more and more countries will celebrate it. Its main task, of course, is to popularize our sport on a global scale.

How will you aim to develop women’s boxing further?

AIBA actively promotes gender equality in any sport, including, of course, boxing. We are confident that the development of women's boxing is very important for our sport to develop harmoniously and attract more and more fans around the world. We plan to pay great attention to women's boxing gaining more and more fans every year and organizing new tournaments. In addition, AIBA understands the need for gender equality not only in the sporting dimension but also in the management of the association. That is why AIBA has created a Women's Committee whose main task is to develop our organization on the basis of gender equality.

How do you see the place of Oceania in the big world of boxing?

AIBA's work is built on the principles of equality and respect. For us, there are no priority or insignificant countries or regions on the map. Every continent, every region, every country is part of our big boxing family. And boxing knows no boundaries. This is easy to prove in practice. For example, Tim, the son of the legendary Russian boxer Konstantin Tszyu, was named the best boxer in Australia last year. Everywhere in the world, there is an interest in boxing, there are children who train in the hope of becoming champions. AIBA's mission is to develop boxing throughout the planet, and of course, Oceania will not be left out.

How can AIBA support and develop programs in Oceania?

AIBA is an association created to enable its National Federations to develop boxing in their countries. The association must and will provide any support for this: legal, consulting and even financial. In addition, it is important for us to establish a system of internal communications of National Federations so that countries with more experience can help those who have less experience.
On March 6th we will hold the AIBA Oceanian Forum to identify the needs of the continent's National Federations and work out a plan for their joint solution.

What are your long-term ambitions beyond your immediate goals for the sport of boxing?

My ambitions have nothing to do with my own person. I love boxing since childhood, I live this sport. Therefore, the development of my favorite sport is not a short-term goal but a outstanding work, my life's work.

Umar Kremlev
AIBA President